[FFML] Ranma 1/2 End Game Chapter 1

Michael Clark eta.bootis at gmail.com
Thu Feb 17 22:22:51 PST 2011

I have some comments to follow up with what Brian had to offer on
chapter one.  I'll try to stay general, since the story's already been
picked through for most routine errors.

Overall, I find the premise palatable.  It stands to reason that a
marriage license would be filed beforehand.  It seems plausible enough
that Ranma would sign something to make it go away rather than fret
over it too much when he's got a dozen other things on his mind.  And I
like the idea that Akane would take this as a starting point to try to
make something new.

Stylistically, though, sentence and scene structure seem very rigid and
formulaic.  There are several scenes where it's just Akane and Ranma
present, no one else, yet every piece of dialogue is tagged--in my
mind, needlessly so.  When it's just two people, speakers are often
clear from context; it should be safe to drop tags in those cases.
That's not to say whole pages and pages of dialogue should be devoid of
tags or indicators of who's speaking, but right now, it feels like
you're on the other extreme.

On that topic, some of the tags are a stretch.  "Emitted" is used a
couple times, and I don't think I've ever seen that before.  I'm not
going to tell you to purge them all and restrict yourself to no more
than "said" or "asked," but I would urge you to consider whether the
dialogue speaks for itself.  When a character repeats himself, we know
it.  When he wonders aloud or curses to himself in dialogue, we know
that, too.  I know there's a principle out there--tell them what you're
going to show them, show it to them, and then tell them what you just
showed them, to make sure they get it--but I think this is a case of
less is more.

There also seems to be a lack of narrative presence--this is what I
mean when I say there's a lot of dialogue.  In itself, that's fine, but
what is said when there isn't dialogue is important, too.  The opening
paragraphs are the brunt of that in this story, and to reiterate an old
piece of advice, I felt they could benefit from more showing and less
telling.  Don't tell me there's a folder hidden in the desk.  Let's see
some old files and assignments come out first--be specific, details are
good--and then we get to it.  Once I know there's something hiding
there, I don't think critically about what's happening.  I just wait
for the story to get there.  Those paragraphs of narration felt really
flat to me, disconnected from the emotions that Akane must've felt to
bring herself to sign.

I won't say too much on plot until I've read further on.  On that
front, I think there's potential and possibility for intriguing
dynamics.  Ultimately, that's more important than minutiae of style
that I've mostly commented on.  Style and technique are processes of
continual refinement and learning, after all, but a good idea is
something that can only come from the mind of an author, that shines
through no matter what.

Anyway, I only hope that my remarks prove worth considering and that
they neither discourage you nor sap the enjoyment from the craft of
telling a story.

Happy writing,
Michael Clark ("Muphrid")

More information about the ffml mailing list